After falling behind on a Carles Gil goal, Orlando City showed some fight and earned another road point in a 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution. The Lions (6-5-4, 22 points) had opportunities to break the deadlock after Robin Jansson tied the match but couldn’t push another goal past the Revs (5-5-5, 20 points) as they remain winless in their history at Gillette Stadium (0-5-2).
Orlando is winless in its last eight league matches against the Revs going 0-4-4 in the regular-season series since September of 2017. That record falls to 0-5-4 when including the playoff loss to New England after the 2020 season.
Still, it was an important road result for the Lions, who stand at 3-1-4 with 13 points of a possible 24 away from Exploria Stadium this season.
“I think it was a game well played. We have the sensation that it could have been more than a point,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We found in New England today, a team that wanted to play the transitions with players who were dangerous there. And I think we controlled them, but well-played by the players. The effort after 16 days without playing was much, much better and the rhythm was better than I thought and we’ll be ready for the next one.”
Pareja’s lineup was a bit unusual coming off the international break. Pedro Gallese, who played 120 minutes — plus a penalty shootout — on Monday in Qatar, not only made it back but started in goal. His back line was only three-quarters of the usual group, with Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, and Rodrigo Schlegel joined by Kyle Smith rather than Ruan. Junior Urso slid back into central midfield with Cesar Araujo after playing several games as a winger. Jake Mulraney started in the attacking midfield line with Mauricio Pereyra and Facundo Torres, while Alexandre Pato was a surprise starter over Designated Player Ercan Kara up top.
Pareja said it wasn’t an easy decision to start Gallese over Adam Grinwis after the Peruvian played Monday and spent half a day on a plane. However, Gallese beat the team to the hotel and made sure he was available.
As is typical with trips to New England, the Lions spent the early minutes getting used to the turf and as a result there were some passing miscues and poor touches. The Revs got the first opportunity three minutes in when Gustavo Bou fired from the right and although his shot appeared to be heading just wide, Gallese took no chances and knocked it behind for a corner. Nothing came of the ensuing set piece.
Bou got in behind the defense in the 12th minute. He didn’t make much contact with the entry ball, but he got a touch and Gallese did well to get down and make the save.
The first good scoring chance for Orlando took place in the 21st minute. Pato worked his way left to right across the top of the box and smashed a shot on target. The shot was a bit too central, which allowed Djordje Petrovic to make a good save. Moutinho found the handle and took a shot on the ensuing corner, but he hit Urso and the ball took an unfortunate bounce, allowing the Revs to counter.
Bou got around Araujo, who slid on the turf and was slow to recover when trying to block a pass, allowing the forward to get past. The ball cycled left to right to Gil and Mulraney played way too far off the Designated Player, who took his time, lined up his shot, and curled one just inside the upper left corner to make it 1-0 in the 22nd minute.
Orlando looked to pull that goal right back when Pato was fouled just outside the area. Pereyra took the free kick and sent a too-soft shot that gave Petrovic no trouble at all.
Bou was left in too much space in the 29th minute and fired a shot that didn’t miss by much.
Orlando pulled level in the 35th minute off a corner kick scramble. The ball fell to Jansson on the left and the defender dribbled toward the end line and smashed a shot from a tough angle that found its way just inside the right post to make it 1-1.
“I came at the back post after Rodri hit the ball on one of their guys, and then I picked up the rebound and just tried to get it past the first defender there,” Jansson said. “And then one-touched on the left and then hard between the legs on the goalkeeper. So yeah, I’m happy about that.”
New England lost midfielder Matt Polster to concussion protocol late in the half after a scary head-to-head clash with Schlegel. Tommy McNamara replaced Polster, while Schlegel was able to continue. Neither team was able to create another good chance in the remaining time before the break.
The Revs held more of the possession in the first half (53.6%-46.4%) and won more corners (6-3), but Orlando had more shots (9-4), with each team getting three attempts on target. The teams were just about even in terms of passing accuracy, with the Revs holding a slim 84.7%-83.3% edge.
Orlando looked good out of the break, getting more of the early second-half chances. Urso had an early shot blocked and it ended up with Torres, who got his shot on target but Petrovic made the save in the 48th minute. Two minutes later, a great ball from Mulraney nearly found Pato, but Andrew Farrell did some emergency defending to deny the ball to the Orlando forward.
The Lions should have had a free kick from just outside the area in the 57th minute due to a handball near the top of the box. The referee didn’t call it live and, because it wasn’t in the box, it was outside the jurisdiction of video review to correct.
New England’s first good chance of the half came on a set piece in the 63rd minute. Brandon Bye found himself with a free header as a backpedaling Moutinho couldn’t quite get to him. But the defender’s header skipped wide of the right post. Two minutes later, Jozy Altidore sent a shot from outside the area high above the crossbar. New England then had a number of crosses and set pieces during a spell in which the Lions struggled to hold possession.
The next decent chance for either side came in the 78th minute when Bye headed wide again.
Orlando’s best chance to find a winner came in the 80th minute. Smith found a loose ball on the right off a long Moutinho throw and sent a spinning shot on target, but Petrovic made a vital save to keep the match even.
The Lions survived a couple of late set pieces and the game finished all knotted up.
The Revs finished with more possession (53.3%-46.7%), corners (10-6), and passing accuracy (84.3%-84.1%), but the Lions had more shots (13-9) and shots on target (5-3).
Orlando was content with the result but realize that more points were there to be had. But the Lions did well to mostly contain the Revs’ strong counterattack.
“They came in a lot of transitions, and we knew before the game that they are strong in that (area) and they have some good players up there,” Jansson said. “You can see on their goal the quality of Gil there, but I think the longer the first half went, I think we started to control it a little bit better and then started to get better control of our game too. So, in the second half, I think we had some good scoring chances too. I think we created some chances and then we we started to get more control in the defense too.”
The Lions have a short turnaround with the Houston Dynamo visiting Exploria Stadium on Saturday night.